Faith on Friday: Women (and Girls) of Faith in Fiction

illustration by Todd St. John
illustration by Todd St. John

This morning I woke up thinking about faith, as I often do on Friday mornings. After saying my morning prayers and getting a cup of coffee, I enjoyed watching the birds and squirrels eating the seeds I tossed out on the sidewalk for them this morning, knowing that the ground would be covered with snow, if only a light dusting here in Memphis. I marveled at how the birds and squirrels could live outside in the freezing temperatures because of the fur and feathers God provided for them. The scripture verse came to mind, ““But if God so arrays the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you, O men of little faith!” (Luke 12:28)

LisettesList1.22coverI’ve just finished reading Julie Cantrell’s wonderful third novel, The Feathered Bone. And I’m almost finished with Susan Vreeland’s historical novel, Lisette’s List. They both have strong protagonists—well, Lisette is stronger than Amanda (Feathered Bone narrator) but it’s Sarah—one of the two young girls in Feathered Bone—whose strong faith in God guides her through several difficult years. (I’m being vague so as not to give away the plot.) The difference is that while Sarah’s faith is clearly in God, Lisette’s seems to be placed in herself and the people she loves and trusts. There’s little mention of God; her faith seems to be placed in the goodness that prevails amongst the people in her small little village just south of Paris during World War II.

Both Lisette and Amanda suffer painful losses—and Sarah endures a terrible ordeal—but faith serves to get them all through to places of healing and renewed joy. Oscar Wilde said, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” I’m not sure how that applies to the faith embraced by characters in works of fiction. But perhaps the readers of these two books will end up imitating the strengths of Sarah, Amanda and Lisette.

[Lisette’s List was published in 2014. A Feathered Bone will launch next Tuesday at Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, but you can pre-order it from any bookstore or online.]